University of Tennessee

This article is about the Knoxville campus. For the statewide system, see University of Tennessee system. For the Chattanooga campus, see University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. For the Martin campus, see University of Tennessee at Martin. For the Health Science Center, see University of Tennessee Health Science Center. For other universities that use the initials UT, see UT.
University of Tennessee
Motto Veritatem cognoscetis et veritas te liberabit (Latin)
Motto in English
You will know the truth and the truth shall set you free.
Type Flagship public university
Established September 10, 1794 (1794-09-10)
Parent institution
University of Tennessee system
Academic affiliations
Endowment $1.107 billion (2015)[1]
Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek
Provost Susan Martin
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Students 27,845 (Fall 2015)[2]
Undergraduates 21,863 (Fall 2015)[2]
Postgraduates 5,982 (Fall 2015)[2]
Location Knoxville, Tennessee, U.S.
35°57′6″N 83°55′48″W / 35.95167°N 83.93000°W / 35.95167; -83.93000Coordinates: 35°57′6″N 83°55′48″W / 35.95167°N 83.93000°W / 35.95167; -83.93000
Campus 560 acres (230 ha)[2]
Total: 2,128 acres (861 ha)[3][4][5]
Colors UT Orange, White[6]
Nickname Volunteers & Lady Volunteers
Mascot Smokey X
Sporting affiliations

The University of Tennessee (also referred to as the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, UT Knoxville, UTK, or UT) is a public sun- and land-grant university located in Knoxville, Tennessee, United States. Founded in 1794, two years before Tennessee became the 16th state to enter the Union, it is the flagship campus of the University of Tennessee system with nine undergraduate colleges and eleven graduate colleges. It hosts almost 28,000 students from all 50 states and more than 100 foreign countries. In its 2017 universities ranking, U.S. News & World Report ranked UT 103rd among all national universities and 46th among public institutions of higher learning. Seven alumni have been selected as Rhodes Scholars; James M. Buchanan, M.S. '41, received the 1986 Nobel Prize in Economics. UT's ties to nearby Oak Ridge National Laboratory, established under UT President Andrew Holt and continued under the UT–Battelle partnership, allow for considerable research opportunities for faculty and students.

Also affiliated with the university are the Howard H. Baker, Jr. Center for Public Policy, the University of Tennessee Anthropological Research Facility, and the University of Tennessee Arboretum, which occupies 250 acres (100 ha) of nearby Oak Ridge and features hundreds of species of plants indigenous to the region. The university is a direct partner of the University of Tennessee Medical Center, which is one of two Level I trauma centers in East Tennessee. As a teaching hospital, it has aggressive medical research programs.

The University of Tennessee is the only university in the nation to have three presidential papers editing projects and holds collections of the papers of all three U.S. presidents from Tennessee—Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, and Andrew Johnson. UT is one of the oldest public universities in the United States and the oldest secular institution west of the Eastern Continental Divide.


The Hill. The University of Tennessee was established in 1794, making it one of the oldest institutions of higher education in the U.S.

Founding and early days

On September 10, 1794, two years before Tennessee became a state and at a meeting of the legislature of the Southwest Territory at Knoxville, the University of Tennessee was chartered as Blount College. The new, all-male, non-sectarian institution struggled for 13 years with a small student body and faculty, and in 1807, the school was rechartered as East Tennessee College as a condition of receiving the proceeds from the settlement devised in the Compact of 1806. When Samuel Carrick, its first president and only faculty member, died in 1809, the school was temporarily closed until 1820. When it reopened, it began experiencing growing pains. Thomas Jefferson had previously recommended that the college leave its confining single building in the city and relocate to a place it could spread out. Ironically, in the Summer of 1826 (the year that Thomas Jefferson died), the trustees explored "Barbara Hill" (today known simply as The Hill) as a potential site and relocated there by 1828.[7] In 1840, the college was elevated to East Tennessee University (ETU). The school's status as a religiously non-affiliated institution of higher learning was unusual for the period of time in which it was chartered, and the school is generally recognized as the oldest such establishment of its kind west of the Appalachian Divide.[8]

Civil War and reconstruction

Tennessee was a member of the Confederacy in 1862 when the Morrill Act was passed, providing for endowment funds from the sale of federal land to state agricultural colleges. On February 28, 1867, Congress passed a special Act making the State of Tennessee eligible to participate in the Morrill Act of 1862 program. In January 1869, ETU was designated as Tennessee's recipient of the Land-Grant designation and funds. In accepting the funds, the university would focus upon instructing students in military, agricultural, and mechanical subjects. ETU eventually received $396,000 as its endowment under the program. Trustees soon approved the establishment of a medical program under the auspices of the Nashville School of Medicine and added advanced degree programs. East Tennessee University was renamed the University of Tennessee in 1879 by the state legislature.[9]

World War II

During World War II, UT was one of 131 colleges and universities nationally that took part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program which offered students a path to a Navy commission.[10]

Civil rights era

African-American attorney Rita Sanders Geier filed suit against the state of Tennessee in 1968 alleging that its higher education system remained segregated despite a federal mandate ordering desegregation. She claimed that the opening of a University of Tennessee campus at Nashville, Tennessee would lead to the creation of another predominantly white institution that would strip resources from Tennessee State University, the only state-funded Historically black university. The suit was not settled until 2001, when the Geier Consent Decree resulted in the appropriation of $77 million in state funding to increase diversity among student and faculty populations among all Tennessee institutions of higher learning.[11]



The University of Tennessee at Knoxville is the flagship campus of the statewide University of Tennessee system, which is governed by a 26-member board of trustees appointed by the Governor of Tennessee. The campus is headed by a Chancellor who functions as the chief executive officer of the campus, responsible for its daily administration and management. The chancellor reports to the president of the university system and is elected annually by the UT Board of Trustees at the recommendation of the system president. Jimmy Cheek has been Chancellor of the Knoxville campus since February 1, 2009. Joseph A. DiPietro has been system president since January 1, 2011. Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Susan D. Martin is responsible for the academic administration of the Knoxville campus and reports directly to the Chancellor.[12]

Campus policing and security is provided by the University of Tennessee Police Department.


University of Tennessee Knoxville (2015)[13]

According to the University's 2009 budget, state appropriations increased 26.4 percent from 2000 to 2009, although this amounts to only a 1.1 percent when adjusted for inflation.[14]

University Medical Center

The University of Tennessee Medical Center, administered by University Health Systems and affiliated with the University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine, collaborates with the University of Tennessee Health Science Center to attract and train the majority of its medical staff. Many doctors and nurses at UTMC have integrated careers as teachers and healthcare professionals, and the center promotes itself as the area's only academic, or "teaching hospital."

The University Medical Center is the primary referral center for East Tennessee, Western North Carolina, and Southeastern Kentucky and along with Johnson City Medical Center, it is one of two Level I trauma centers in the East Tennessee geographic region. Extensive expansion programs were embarked upon the 1990s and 2000s (decade) and saw the construction of two sprawling additions to the hospital's campus, a new Cancer Institute and a Heart Lung Vascular Institute. The new UT Medical Center Heart Hospital received its first patient on April 27, 2010.[15]

Students and faculty


Demographics of the UT Knoxville Student body - Fall 2013[16]
Racial/ethnic group Percent of student body
African American 6.8%
Asian American 5%
Non-Hispanic White 77.7%
Hispanic American 2.9%
Native American 0.2%
International student 4.4%

During the 2015 academic calendar year, the University of Tennessee at Knoxville had a total enrollment of 21,863 undergraduate and 5,982 graduate and professional students. UT hosts students from all 50 U.S. states and 92 foreign countries, although the majority of undergraduates hail from the American Southeast states of Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia, with more than 14,000 from Tennessee alone. Currently 49% of students are female, 50% are male, and 17% of UT students identify themselves as non-caucasian.[17]


University rankings
ARWU[18] 66-78
Forbes[19] 295
U.S. News & World Report[20] 103
Washington Monthly[21] 129
ARWU[22] 151-200
QS[23] 451-460
Times[24] 251-300
U.S. News & World Report[25] 152

The University of Tennessee is ranked tied for 47th among public universities of America and tied for 103rd among all United States universities by U.S. News & World Report in its 2016 rankings.[26]

Specialty rankings are:


The total research endowment of the UT Knoxville campus was $127,983,213 for FY 2006. UT Knoxville boasts several faculty who are among the leading contributors to their fields, including Harry McSween, generally recognized as one of the world's leading experts in the study of meteorites and a member of the science team for Mars Pathfinder and later a co-investigator for the Mars Odyssey and Mars Exploration Rovers projects.[35] The university also hosts Barry T. Rouse, an international award-winning Distinguished Professor of Microbiology who has conducted multiple NIH-funded studies on the herpes simplex virus (HSV) and who is a leading researcher in his field.[36] UT's agricultural research programs are considered to be among the most accomplished in the nation, and the School of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources is home to the East Tennessee Clean Fuels Initiative, recognized by the United States Department of Energy as the "best local clean fuels program in America.".[37]

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

The major hub of research at the University of Tennessee is Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), one of the largest government laboratories in the United States. ORNL is a major center of civilian and governmental research[38] and features one of the world's most powerful supercomputers.

Looking west along the Pedestrian Walkway

SECU: the SEC Academic Initiative

The University of Tennessee is a member of the SEC Academic Consortium. Now renamed the SECU, the initiative was a collaborative endeavor designed to promote research, scholarship and achievement amongst the member universities in the Southeastern conference. Along with the University of Georgia, University of Florida, Vanderbilt University, and other SEC institutions, SECU formed its mission to serve as a means to bolster collaborative academic endeavors of Southeastern Conference universities. Its goals include highlighting the endeavors and achievements of SEC faculty, students and its universities and advancing the academic reputation of SEC universities.[39][40]

In 2013, the University of Tennessee participated in the SEC Symposium in Atlanta, Georgia which was organized and led by the University of Georgia and the UGA Bioenergy Systems Research Institute. The topic of the Symposium was titled, the "Impact of the Southeast in the World's Renewable Energy Future."[41]

Agricultural Campus

The University of Tennessee Anthropological Research Facility, nicknamed the "Body Farm", is located near the University of Tennessee Medical Center on Alcoa Highway (US 129). Founded by Dr. William M. Bass in 1972, the Body Farm endeavors to increase anthropological and forensic knowledge specifically related to the decomposition of the human body and is one of the leading centers for such research in the United States.[42]

Cherokee Research Campus

On March 16, 2009, the university broke ground on a 188-acre (76 ha) campus in downtown Knoxville that will feature new, world-class facilities devoted to the pursuit of nanotechnology, neutron science, and materials science, energy and climate studies, environmental science, and biomedical science.[43]

Campus master plan

The university has implemented a 25-year (2001–2026) campus master plan that will facilitate a sweeping overhaul of campus design.[44] The plan is designed to make the campus more pedestrian-friendly by establishing large areas of open green space and relegating parking facilities to the periphery of the campus, and to increase the aesthetic appeal of the school by establishing uniform building design codes and by physically remodeling, restoring, and expanding existing academic, athletic, and housing facilities. Centrally located, iconic Ayres Hall is currently undergoing a massive upgrade as part of Phase I of the project, with work expected to be completed around 2011. A new university center is planned, along with substantial new facilities for science, the performing arts, and athletics. An expected 3,000 new parking spaces will be developed along with improved mass transit and walking spaces. The plan calls for the removal of many of the roads that bisect the campus, along with the development of two new quads, one each on the main and agricultural campuses. Restoration and renovations of existing campus buildings are expected to be conducted in concert with historical preservationists when appropriate, according to the 2001 Master Plan document.[44]

View of Europa and the Bull at McClung Plaza

Student life


International House 
The International House is a popular gathering place for visiting international students and delegations and University of Tennessee students who have previously or are currently interested in studying abroad through the Programs Abroad Office. A full kitchen, meeting rooms, and a library provide support for frequent cultural events ranging from salsa dance lessons and nation-themed culture nights to Peace Corps interest meetings.[45]
Black Cultural Center 
The Black Cultural Center, or BCC, houses the Office of Minority Student Affairs and offers a student computer lab, free Spanish tutoring, and a textbook loan service for economically disadvantaged students. There is a small but well-stocked library featuring numerous works examining religious and minority issues, and the facility offers free use of its meeting rooms to campus organizations and their affiliates.[46]
Campus Events Board 
The Campus Events Board (CEB) is a student organization with nearly two hundred members that runs the majority of campus events, activities, and programs for the student body. CEB hosts around a hundred events per year and is consistently ranked as one of the best collegiate programming organizations in the nation. Examples include homecoming, lectures, concerts, raves, movies, art exhibitions, and dance performances. CEB runs both traditional events like the comedic skit competition "Carnicus" which is over a hundred years old and single-time events like musical performances or Culture Week.


The University of Tennessee has over 450 registered student organizations. These groups cater to a variety of interests and provide options for those interested in service, sports, arts, social activities, government, politics, cultural issues, and Greek societies.[47]

The university operates two radio stations: student-run The Rock (formerly the Torch)[48] (WUTK-FM 90.3 MHz) and National Public Radio affiliate WUOT-FM 91.9 MHz. The university's first radio station was on the AM frequency 850 kHz, a donation from Knoxville radio station WIVK-AM/FM. The Phoenix, a literary art magazine, is published in the fall and spring semesters and showcases student artistic creativity.

The Volunteer Channel

The Volunteer Channel (TVC) is the university's student run television station. TVC reaches nearly 7,000 UT students in residence halls and 100,000 residents in surrounding counties on Comcast Digital Channel 194.[49]

The Daily Beacon

The Daily Beacon is the editorially independent student newspaper of UT's campus. It prints 10,000 daily copies, as well as original online content, across campus and the surrounding downtown areas. It began in 1906 as The Orange & White, and has been a staple on the campus landscape ever since. It is also one of the few daily collegiate newspapers in the United States.[50]

Greek institutions

The University of Tennessee hosts 22 sororities and 30 fraternities.


Main article: Tennessee Volunteers
UT athletics logo

Tennessee competes in the Southeastern Conference's (SEC) Eastern Division, along with Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt, and has longstanding football rivalries with all except for Missouri, which did not join the SEC until 2012. The only UT team that does not compete in the SEC is the women's rowing program, which competes as a single-sport member of the Big 12 Conference.

The Tennessee Lady Volunteers basketball team has won eight NCAA Division I titles (1987, 1989, 1991, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2007, 2008); only Connecticut, with nine titles, has more championships. They are currently led by Holly Warlick. She succeeded Pat Summitt, the all-time winningest basketball coach in NCAA history. Summitt's 1,000th victory occurred on February 5, 2009, and she boasts a 100 percent graduation rate for all players who finish their career at UT. Women's basketball rivals for Tennessee within the conference include Georgia, Vanderbilt, and LSU.

UT's best-known athletic facility by far is Neyland Stadium, home to the football team, which seats over 102,000 people and is one of the country's largest facilities of its type. The stadium is currently undergoing a $200 million renovation with construction expected to last into the 2010s.[51]

In August 2014, University of Tennessee students were given the opportunity to vote for a name for the Neyland Stadium student section. The name "Rocky Top Rowdies" was selected over "General's Quarters," "Smokey's Howl," "Vol Army," and "Big Orange Crew." [52]

On November 10, 2014, as part of a university-wide branding overhaul, the UT athletic department announced that starting with the 2015–16 school year, all UT women's teams except for basketball would drop "Lady" from their nickname and become simply "Volunteers". The rebranding will coincide with UT's switch from Adidas to Nike as its uniform supplier.[53]

Club sports

The university also offers a number of recreational sports, many offering intercollegiate play. Sports include rugby, soccer, wrestling, hockey, running, crew, golf and paintball.[54] Teams often join intercollegiate conferences, such as the Southeastern Collegiate Hockey Conference, or play Southeastern Conference and in other rivals on a regular basis.


Charles Moore, president of the university's athletic association, chose orange and white for the school colors on April 12, 1889. His inspiration is said to have come from orange and white daisies which grew on the Hill. To this day there are still orange and white flowers grown outside the University Center. Although students confirmed the colors at a special meeting in 1892, dissatisfaction caused the colors to be dropped. No other acceptable colors could be agreed on, however, and the original colors were reinstated a day later. The University of Tennessee's official colors are UT Orange (Pantone 151), White, and Smokey Gray (Pantone 426).[55]

Pride of the Southland Band

5 min video of the open of a football game

The Pride of the Southland Band (or simply The Pride) is UT's marching band. As one of the oldest institutions at the university, the band partakes in many of the gameday traditions. At every home game, the Pride performs the "March to the Stadium" which includes a parade sequence and climaxes when the band stops at the bottom of The Hill and performs the "Salute to the Hill", an homage to the history and legacy of the university. The band is known for its pregame show at the beginning of every home game, which ends with the football team running onto the field through the "Opening of the T".


Main article: Smokey (mascot)


Tennessee is known as the "Volunteer State" for the large number of Tennesseans who volunteered for duty in the War of 1812, the Mexican–American War, and the American Civil War. A UT athletic team was dubbed the Volunteers for the first time in 1902 by the Atlanta Constitution following a football game against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, although the Knoxville Journal and Tribune did not use the name until 1905. By the fall of 1905 both the Journal and the then-Sentinel were using the nickname.[56]

The Rock

Unearthed in the 1960s, the Rock probably soon thereafter became a "canvas" for student messages. For years the university sandblasted away the messages but eventually deferred to students' artistic endeavors. The Daily Beacon has editorialized: "Originally a smaller rock, The Rock has grown in prestige and size while thousands of coats of paint have been thrown on its jagged face. Really, its function is as an open forum for students."[57]

Notable people

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to University of Tennessee at Knoxville.


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